NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Had the Hoover High boys’ soccer team finished on Tuesday, perhaps its season wouldn’t be.
But the majority of the Tornadoes’ chances to put the ball in the back of the net against visiting Malibu during their CIF Southern Section Division IV wild-card playoff game ended in a missed shot or simply a missed opportunity.
And, the one look Hoover did put away — a game-tying goal by senior midfielder Arman Ter-Barseghyan in the 64th minute — was followed just minutes later by the Sharks’ second goal that would stand as the difference in their 2-0 victory.
Suffice to say, it was a frustrating finale for the Tornadoes.
“What makes it frustrating is that we get open-goal chances and what haunted us all season haunts us again [today] — we just can’t put the ball in the net,” Hoover first-year Coach Kevin Cadenas said. “What hurts is that we played at home and we had good fans. There was good effort, we just couldn’t put the ball into the net.”
Back in the playoffs after a one-year absence, Hoover (9-5-3), which finished third in the Pacific League, had no shortage of energy to start the game, which led to some early opportunities.
Sophomore midfielder Romel Sarkisloo squared up a shot inside of the first minute from about 10 yards out that strayed wide to the left, as did junior midfielder Sero Gharghani’s open look off a free kick from Ter-Barseghyan three minutes later. Hoover consistently kept the ball in its attacking third for much of the first half, but often came a pass or a 50-50 ball away from getting a good shot.
Meanwhile, Malibu (9-7), which finished fourth in the Tri-Valley League, couldn’t generate much offense, but got a great opportunity when a Hoover player was called for a hand ball in the penalty box in the 33rd minute.
Cully Smoller took the ensuing penalty kick for Malibu and beat Hoover goalkeeper Hakop Boghossian with a shot into the upper right corner for a 1-0 lead.
Hoover started off the second half with another promising scenario when Sarkisloo got around Malibu goalkeeper Walker Gareri and had a one-on-one with his defender, but Sarkisloo couldn’t keep control of the ball.
Eventually, the Tornadoes’ luck changed, when Ter-Barseghyan, faced up with his defender on the left elbow of the penalty box, juked back to the middle of the field and fired a splendid shot straight to the back of the net over a falling Gareri.
Just four minutes later, however, the Tornadoes encountered their most frustrating sequence of the day.
Gareri got a hand on a straight shot from 20 yards out that nearly deflected back into the goal, but bounced off the post instead. An open follow at close range was sent wide left.
Malibu responded with a quick counter that was met with a Tornadoes defensive breakdown and ultimately resulted in the Sharks retaking the lead on a point-blank goal by JJ Saul in the 68th minute.
“It was a lack of focus right there,” Cadenas said of the quick turnaround. “Malibu had a good game.”